11
Feb
10

Big weekend in B.C.

Something big is about to happen this weekend. Potentially, anyway. Is Bozeman just hours away from its first Olympic medal winner? Has Bozeman ever had one? I’m not even sure; I haven’t lived here long enough. Either way, it won’t take long for us to find out if Bozeman native Heather McPhie is headed for the podium at the Vancouver Games, which begin Friday. McPhie is scheduled to participate in the moguls competition Saturday afternoon, with the finals planned for the evening. A medal would certainly put Bozeman on the national map, although, unfortunately, McPhie is listed as being from Park City, Utah, where she trains. But she is undoubtedly from Bozeman – her family goes back at least two generations when it comes to living in Gallatin County. So if she does medal, you’re likely to hear NBC’s commentators say she’s from Utah. We know better. Anything can happen – especially due to the questionable conditions (i.e. rain) that are forecast for Cypress Mountain, the venue for the moguls – but it appears as if McPhie has a real shot at a top-three finish. Sports Illustrated thinks so: SI picked her to finish with a silver medal. Another story concerning a local skier may develop over the next 24 hours. Lindsey Vonn, who was planning on skiing in five alpine events, may not be able to go due to a shin problem. If she can’t, Big Sky’s Keely Kelleher may get a shot at wearing Red, White and Blue next week. Kelleher, who is from Big Sky, is the first alternate for some of the alpine events and could get the call to replace Vonn’s spot on the U.S. team. I exchanged e-mails with Keely this morning and she said she hadn’t heard anything official from her coach. Stay tuned. (Vonn was expected to test her leg Thursday, but Vancouver’s uncooperative weather nixed that idea). Either way, Saturday could be a big day for Bozeman. And if McPhie wins gold, watch out. Her life will change forever. And if she’s the first American gold medal winner, the media will jump all over it. When snowboarder Kelly Clark won America’s first gold in 2002 during the Salt Lake City Games, she quickly became a hot commodity. When fellow snowboarder Ross Powers soon followed with another gold, Vermont became the hot state. I was living in Vermont (in Bennington, working for the Bennington Banner) at the time and remember that The Boston Globe sent a reporter (Michael Smith, now at ESPN.com) to write a story. Clark, who is from Dover, near Mount Snow, and Powers (South Londonderry, near Stratton Mtn.) were nowhere to be found. Clark was appearing on Letterman and Powers was making similar media appearances. There were signs and banners everywhere in their honor. And they will always be known as Olympic gold medal winners – no matter where they go or what they do with their lives. Come Saturday night, that could be Heather McPhie.

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